Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Golden Dragon (or Pride in Earning a Quiet Afternoon)

This is an afternoon I've waited a heck of a long time for. An afternoon to be proud of.
An afternoon I have more than earned.

Kiddo, at long last, has done enough jobs and finally saved up enough allowance to buy his heart's delight, Lego's "Golden Dragon" from their Ninjago line. Never mind that I hate how Lego uses cartoons and books only for merchandising... I don't even freakin' care. I have earned this afternoon, down to the very last dollar.

Y'see, Kiddo earns money the old fashioned way, he works for it. His allowance is kind of small for a reason; it gives him a chance to really gear up and work if he wants things. A couple months ago, Kiddo stated his intent-- The Golden Dragon-- and began to work pretty diligently at small jobs I'd offer him. When he'd hit about $15 dollars or so, I talked to Joe about the some of the very real problems with Lego sets, namely that their prices do go up and that they do eventually discontinue making sets. Long story short, we decided to buy the set for Kiddo without his knowledge, this way the price would stay fixed (and we wouldn't have to bail him out or disappoint him at the time of purchase) and that they wouldn't run out, because he would have been crushed.Yep, a bit helicoptery on that one, but frankly if he was busting his butt around here, I wasn't going to let him get shorted because he was too late for Lego.

And so we've both been busting our butts. It's taken me twice as long to do the dishes when I'm also helping him with vacuuming the bathroom. He's emptied out countless buckets of yard trimmings for me (so much work for me!), he's very, very cheerfully helped me completely empty out his room of nearly everything for a deep clean-- he was doing it for $1 but wouldn't you know I paid him $3 because of his cheerful attitude and no complaining. (Yes, he's found my weak spot, I will pay extra for no complaining!) I dug out a whole ten square feet of canes to Freecycle to a new home so he could earn a dollar hauling the endless paper bags of them up to the porch. Ah, the chicken and the egg... is he earning more because I've been a busy lady or am I a busy lady to help this kid out? In any case, I have a lovely symbiotic relationship going here, stuff is getting done and I am glad for it. And this afternoon, he vacuumed both the living room and kitchen, complete with helping to pick up items and delivering a pair of snow boots to a younger neighbor besides.

He'd earned his $30 and now wanted to take the bus to the store for the Lego set. I wanted to surprise him and played along. We got our shoes on, I grabbed my purse, and we made it down the stairs before I stopped. "Uh-oh" I said, "I forgot to bring Gus (our cat) in. Let me go get him, you stay here."

Then I ran through the house and grabbed that precious box from the Room Dedicated To Cribbage Boards*, and called Kiddo to the back. "Oh, honey, there's something here you need to see...."

Enter the first hour break I've had in a LOT of days. One where I am not working at something or re-arranging the house (that's another post) or thinking about school stuff or dinner. This afternoon, dammit, I earned this. I am not going to lie-- there is a gin and tonic within reach and the spanakopita just came out of the oven, so I'm going to have a snack. But first-- " Mom, watch this!" a ball shoots out of the dragon's mouth, the head not yet attached to his body. Boy, do I love this kid! He's so much fun. And he's once again playing quietly. ah.........

*Yes, we have a room dedicated to cribbage boards. Someday, it might be tidy enough for you to take a tour. For now, it's disguising itself as a bone of contention/ junk room. C'est la vie- I'd rather have cribbage boards in the old back bedroom than skeletons in my closet!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Winding Down in the Garden

Summertime writing comes in fits and starts for me. Quiet when we are busy, and now, restful after two trips within three weeks, I am catching my breath and thinking of the month to come.

We took two fun trips, one to Oceanside (which makes me always think of Robyn Hitchcock's song of the same title and its sweet chorus: "Maybe I will find today/Maybe I will lose tomorrow/Gonna rock on to the oceanside") and another, a camping trip with my father and immediate family on his side. After doing all  of our family's planning for these trips- menus, clothing lists, camping essentials, etc, my brain is now in Recuperating Mode. Hence, we have had a few mellow days where we've just taken care of basic needs and I'm catching up on laundry. So it goes...

Before I forget, here's something fun I did to preserve the summer fun. In Oceanside, we collected loads of neat rocks and shells. Joe and I are chronic beachcombers, no matter how hard we try.We also spent time digging loads of trenches and moats and creating dams... which only facilitated our finding more agates hiding in sand and rocks. ANYWAY, after I got home, I went outside and clipped a big handful of lavender in bloom, then found a rectangular vase and placed the lavender in there. Instead of adding water, I poured a layer of beach rocks and shells on either side of the flowers, so they support the flowers and show beautifully through the walls of the vase. You can use any kind of flower that dries well for this if you don't have lavender...love-in-a-mist seed pods or poppy pods would also work, or dried Lunaria/ Honesty (Silver Dollar plant)... or wait a while if you  have some Physalis (those orange Chinese Lanterns) growing in your yard. I wish I did! I now have this sweet arrangement in our bedroom. Warning-- it does drop the tiny lavender flowers when they dry out, but that is what vacuums are for.

Now that I've had more down time, my mind has turned to the garden. It's been hot, so work is limited to earlier mornings before 9 and cooler nights if I have the energy. But it's still good out there. This morning I deadheaded the zinnias-- they are one of the easiest showy flowers to maintain, FYI. The sonata pink cosmos were in a sorry state, so they were trimmed back as well, and the Bowles Mauve wallflower finally had it's long stemmy flowers trimmed back. I have more to do, but this summer has blessed me (ha!) with a sore back, no matter what I seem to do. Having work done on the house means that my lace-cap hydrangea was partially stomped down, so that's getting clipped back to within an inch of it's life so that it grows back strong and hearty in the coming years. Our composter surprised us with a squash vine... I have no idea which variety of squash will appear, if any, but let's cross our fingers for a pumpkin! The blueberries still have another week or two left in them, and my Ugly Lena tomatoes are suitably miserable-looking, which makes me glad. If you think that's crazy, it's only crazy because it's true-- this plant looks terrible, foliage-wise, but produces amazing roma-type tomatoes, only with a brandywine interior and an incredible rich flavor. I've been battling blossom-rot but have two tomatoes turning red as I type.  I'm so excited, already I can taste a tomato-mayo sandwich on some sourdough bread. Simple pleasures...

Kiddo's tutoring is winding up and so we're talking about doing an independent study on mummies for a few weeks. This is his idea, folks, and it's a fun one.  I can get a few books from the library and create some cloze stories as well as finding some supplemental print-outs.  Mummy math? What do you think of that? If four mummies each used 10 bandages to wrap themselves up, how many bandages are being used? (use a hundred's board to figure this). ... oops, was I thinking school out loud? OMSI is hosting a Mummies of the World exhibit that Joe is going to take Kiddo to, so that's going to be a fantastic experience for them. Now, if three pyramids each have 7 treasures (place 7 counters on each pyramid illustration... ) Okay, there I go again, so perhaps it's time to leave. Enjoy these wonderful summer days while our time before school is winding down. I'm planning on doing a few fun excursions in the next few weeks. What are you going to do?